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Junior Oliphant

Junior Oliphant

As a colored* male artist trying to break through the stereotypes of growing up in a colored area, I strive to create a platform for people to perform and show the world that we are more than just a stereotype. I want to tell a story from the outlands "(die buitelanders)" that is untold in history. I will tell my story unapologetically through mediums such as photography, pencil, acrylic paint, and spray painting. In this way, I will hone into my Khoisan culture by exploring and learning my identity through my art.

*I use this spelling of the word colored instead of coloured because even though this term is forced upon non white races that have suffered apartheid, colored people from South Africa are the only race that is proud of this term.

Self-portrait - seeing oneself

“Children of the San VI As a Colored Man”

A number of pieces of Ancient Levantine art depict prayer through the raising of both hands to just above the chin, with the figures either standing or kneeling. The symbol of the cross itself, representing Jesus' crucifixion, is another reference to hand-raising, as Jesus was nailed to the cross with his hands raised.

This work is a depiction of what it looks like to be a colored man in South Africa. Growing up in Johannesburg, Kempton Park as a toddler and currently living in Kimberley, Roodepan since puberty, have made it easy to act differently as a colored in different scenarios, but all and all, the stereotype still exists. As a colored male, you constantly have to prove yourself in professional setups that you are not what you appear as, but a lot more.

  1. My tattoo inspired my self-portrait to show some of the services I offer as a visual artist.
  2. Events that inspired this piece is the stereotype associated with colored people which I am trying to challenge by giving colored people a platform to promote our excellence.
  3. The symbols plays a vital role in my characteristics and style as an artist as I consider it my signature.
  4. Through my art I strive to explore my culture by learning and teaching my findings about the indigenous people of South Africa. The khoi and San.
  5. The pose associated with Jesus resembles the number gang sign associated with the 28's of the South Africa. Which is a sacred language developed in the mining Era during apartheid.

Junior Oliphant self portrait© Junior Oliphant

Junior Oliphant self portrait on display

Homage to the Departed – working with the Museum collections

"Tokolosie gaan jou vang" (Tokoloshe will catch you)

Within this piece I finally allowed myself to express what is really going on inside my soul with charcoal sticks on fabriano paper. This piece was purely expressive to me even though I still applied basic drawing elements. This piece is also drawn from imagination based on South African folklore tales I was told as a child about the Tokoloshe. The graveyard in the background is symbolic to me as this is where my father lies but no one in my family knows exactly where his grave is situated. The scenery portrayed is from my Aunt Koekie's house in Danielskuil, Kuilsville, Northern Cape, South Africa.

Junior Oliphant creating artwork

Shadows of the Memory - monochrome past at Duggan Cronin Gallery

“Stories from the Outlands”

This piece is drawn from imagination and inspiration acquired from the Photo Gallery at McGregor Museum by the photographer and traveller ( ). I used Khoisan mythology as my symbolic reference by touching on subject matters about the:

  1. Khoisan was part of the Big Six before it became the Big Five. The British colonials used to hunt them down as they were seen as animals since they were one with nature.
  2. A beast-feeding female figure in cubism style related to apothecary that justifies the way of life from the beginning by portraying breastfeeding.
  3. An unidentified portrait disappears into the black background, which I would like to call the Void. This is a symbolic reference to the difficulties colored people face on heritage day since some of us do not have a heritage to call our own but traditions instead.

In this case, it is safe to tell the world that in South Africa, we are too white to be black and too black to be white.

Junior Oliphant artwork© Junior Oliphant

Tracing the Past - Wildebeest Kuil Rock Art Centre

Children of the San VII "Women of San Maria"

"Juig" is a term known and commonly used by colored people in Christian Pinkster churches. Pinkster churches are a style or tradition commonly seen in churches in colored communities, whereby people dance in circles in front of the church and sing and clap hands in a highly energetic way. This seems relatively related to healing rituals done by indigenous Khoisan people. They used to dance around fires, called the trance dance. During this trance dance, healing took place where sicknesses were present in tribes. Legends say that the rock paintings they did were done in this state of trance. Although there are many people and animal figures, some images depicted are geometric shapes called "sun bursts".

Junior Oliphant artwork© Junior Oliphant